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Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S: How do they compare?

Andrew Williams


Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S: How do they compare?

Which is the best phone of 2014?

Are you Android or iPhone? It has become a defining question of the last decade in tech. The two platforms represent a different approach to the mobile phone, and each suits a different kind of person.

The iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5 are the key flag bearers for these platforms, and they are also two of the very best phones in the world right now. But which one is better?

We’ve compared the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5S to find out.

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S: Video Comparison

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S – Design

Galaxy S5 – Large and plastic with dimpled rear, removable cover

iPhone 5S – Small, hard and expensive-feeling, non-removable rear

The Galaxy S5 is a much bigger phone than the iPhone 5S. For many people, this is the most important thing to consider.

Samsung’s phone will poke out of smaller pockets, and parts of its screen are hard or impossible to reach if you’re holding the phone in one hand. It is quite literally a handful.

Apple’s iPhones have all been much easier to grab than larger Android phones, and this is something very deliberate.

SEE ALSO: Best Android Phones 2014

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S 5

The iPhone 5S is also a better-looking phone than the Galaxy S5. The S5’s plastic battery cover has an odd dimpled texture, and in-hand the iPhone 5S feels like a much harder, more expensive phone.

There are some practical benefits to the Samsung style, though. You can prise off the back, giving you access to the battery. Not many people carry around spare batteries for their phones, but you could do so with a Galaxy S5. The iPhone 5S is a fully sealed-up phone, so if your battery goes kaput you’ll either have to send the phone off to get repaired, or get the toolbox out.

The Galaxy S5 is also waterproofed, where the iPhone 5S will not fare at all well if moisture gets near its ports. There are rubber seals on the S5's USB flap on the bottom, and on the inside of the battery cover.


Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S 1

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S – Dimensions

Galaxy S5 – 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm, 145g

iPhone 5S – 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm, 112g

The dimensions of these phones give you a good idea of how much smaller the iPhone 5S is. The most important one here is width. Being more than a centimetre narrower than the Galaxy S5 is what makes the Apple phone much easier to handle.

Both phones are very light among their peers, but the iPhone is more than 30g lighter than the Samsung.

It’s a similar story with these phones’ thickness. These are two of the slimmest phones around, but the iPhone 5S is a little bit thinner. It is 7.6mm thick while the Galaxy S5 is 8.1mm thick.

SEE ALSO: Android 4.4 tips, tricks and secrets

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S 4

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S – Fingerprint Scanner

Galaxy S5 – Synaptics Natural ID-based scanner

iPhone 5S – TouchID

These are two of the first phones to use fingerprint scanners. But they work in quite different ways.

The iPhone 5S TouchID scanner sits under the Home button, while the Galaxy S5 lives under the central select button – they’re in the same place, more-or-less.

However, while the TouchID sensor simply requires the presence of the digit you’ve ‘taught’ your phone to recognise, you need to swipe the finger across the Galaxy S5’s sensor. We found the Galaxy S5 hit rate to be around 50 per cent in normal use, where the TouchID scanner works more-or-less every time. Some of you may find the S5 scanner a bit annoying – although if you put a bit of effort into learning exactly how to move your finger over the scanner, the situation gets better.

The Galaxy S5 scanner has a trump card, though. It’ll offer up many more uses, as developers can use the scanner in their apps. The TouchID sensor is locked down, so it can only act as a way to unlock the phone or authorise purchases from iTunes. With the S5, you can validate Paypal payments, making it more versatile from day one.

SEE ALSO: iOS 7 tips, tricks and secrets

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S 7

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S – Screen

Galaxy S5 – Super AMOLED, 5.1-inch, 1080p resolution

iPhone 5S – IPS LCD, 4-inch, 1,536 x 640 resolution

The Galaxy S5 has a much larger screen than the iPhone 5S. It is 5.1 inches across to the iPhone’s four.

This naturally makes it a much better phone for watching videos on, especially as the Galaxy S5 screen is fantastic. It has much more natural-looking colours than the previous S-series phones, and is probably the best phone screen we’ve seen yet.

In last year’s comparison of the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S, we said that both screens were good but the iPhone had the more natural look. Super AMOLED screens have now caught up with LCD in the colour fidelity stakes, meaning that overall the S5 screen is flat-out better.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S5 tips tricks and secret features

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S

The key benefit of an OLED screen is that it doesn’t use a normal backlight and is therefore able to produce much deeper blacks, and much better contrast. In a darkened room the iPhone 5S won’t look as good as the S5 as you’ll be able to see the glow of the backlight, turning blacks slightly grey-ish.

Samsung also gives you control over the tone of the screen. The Dynamic mode gives you the vibrant oversaturated colours than have become a Galaxy S series staple, but the Standard, Photo and Movie modes give more accurate colour – which is one of the main reasons why we rate the display so highly.

The Samsung screen has more pixels per inch than the iPhone too, but we think they're roughly on-par in terms of the level of sharpness they offer. They're both razor-sharp at normal viewing distances.

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S – Storage

Galaxy S5 – 16/32GB, microSD

iPhone 5S – 16/32/64GB

The iPhone 5S does not have a memory card slot, so you need to pick your iPhone model carefully. It comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variants, and there’s a significant price-bump for each one.

The Galaxy S5 does have a memory card slot, under the battery cover. A knock-on of this is you don’t quite get the same range of internal memory options. Most places in the UK will only offer the 16GB version of the phone, but there is also a 32GB edition about if you look hard enough.

You can buy 32GB memory cards for around £15, making a card a pretty cheap way to get more storage.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S5 vs LG G3

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S 2

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S – CPU and RAM

Galaxy S5 – Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz, 2GB RAM

iPhone 5S – Apple A7 64-bit 1.4GHz, 1GB RAM

Looking at the specs, the iPhone 5S sounds like it’s a lot less powerful than the Galaxy S5. It has a dual-core CPU instead of a quad-core one, only half the RAM (1GB) and a much slower clock speed – 1.4GHz to the S5’s 2.5GHz.

However, in reality the iPhone 5S offers pretty comparable power, not least because iOS is generally more efficient and controlled than Android. In the 3DMark test, they come out with roughly similar scores, and it thoroughly outclasses the Galaxy S5 in the browser-based SunSpider test - which measures java rendering speed.

Much as you might think the iPhone 5S is a bit of a has-been because it has been around for a lot longer than the Galaxy S5, it’s actually about as powerful.

The iPhone’s Apple A7 CPU is also 64-bit where the Galaxy S4’s Snapdragon 801 is a 32-bit processor. Android isn’t a 64-bit optimised system yet, so having a 64-bit CPU wouldn’t be of much use.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S 8

Why do we care about 64-bit? A 64-bit system can theoretically process data in larger chunks than a 32-bit one, so it becomes important as systems get more powerful, and applications more intensive. With iOS, having the latest processor lets you do things like use more layers in art apps, and more tracks in music sequencers.

These are the kinds of apps that are much better served by iOS than Android anyway, so we’re not sure how useful the 64-bit part of future Androids will really be. It's something for the Galaxy S6 to tackle.

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S – Camera

Galaxy S5 – 16-megapixel ISOCELL sensor, 2MP front camera

iPhone 5S – 8-megapixel, 1.2MP front camera

The Galaxy S5 has a much higher-resolution camera than the iPhone 5S – its 16-megapixel sensor offers twice the resolution of the iPhone 5S’s 8-megapixel one.

In good lighting you will get more detail out of the Galaxy S5, and it also has a pretty good low-light mode that merges together multiple shots to get you more detail and less noise. The iPhone 5S is good at making out object in low light – and is quicker at taking those shots – but the results will still be fairly noisy.

SEE ALSO: Android 5.0 release date, news and rumours

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S 3

Samsung has also packed some new hardware into the S5’s camera. As well as the new ISOCELL sensor, which offers better colour reproduction, you get hybrid phase/contrast detection autofocus.

This offers faster focusing than most rivals in most conditions, including the iPhone 5S in some cases. However, the overall impression is of a phone that’s roughly as fast as the iPhone – not dramatically faster.

Early verdict

The biggest advantage of the Galaxy S5 in this fight is its screen. Samsung’s latest Super AMOLED display offers all the benefits you normally get with LCD (natural looking colours, brightness), along with the spectacular contrast and black levels of OLED. Screen size is important too – watching a film on the Galaxy S5 would be much more fun than doing so on an iPhone 5S.

However, if this is not a huge priority, the Galaxy S5 doesn’t categorically beat the iPhone 5S in that many other respects. The capabilities of the core hardware are somewhat similar, and while the Galaxy S5 can produce more detailed photos, its new focus style only brings it to around the same speed as the iPhone in use.

There are key benefits to an iPhone as well – it is a more manageable size, it still offers a richer apps and games library and iOS 7 is much more reliable than Android 4.4 after it has been given the Samsung TouchWiz interface treatment.

We'll be updating this comparison soon, however, so we can give a more definitive verdict that includes camera tests and battery life comparisons.

Next, read all you need to know about the iPhone 6

Gary Doan

February 24, 2014, 7:27 pm

Cheap and getting cheaper. The Android market is a different animal than the iPhone market, which the press and analysts should have have figured out by now. Especially with recent record iPhone and iPad sales. Android is a commodity now and further commercialization of Android will only bring pain to the manufacturers that offer Android devices, not Apple. Apple has its own market, customer base and eco-system. Chinese Android players will gain market share, against Korean and Taiwanese vendors as prices and profit margins fall even further than they have already. Has Android commodity pricing hurt Apple? NO, absolutely not, they are selling a record numbers of phones and make more money selling phones than all the Android vendors combined.


February 24, 2014, 8:46 pm

Overall more concerned about the useless bloat than camera or ram. I have the S4 and I never used any of Samsung's built-in software


February 25, 2014, 12:15 am

Gary- curious to get your thoughts on the Barclays report on 2/20:

Barclays downgrades rating on Apple stock due to maturing smartphone market, tells investors to 'step aside'

Analyst Ben A. Reitzes issued a note to investors, provided to AppleInsider, in which he advised them to "step aside," citing a maturing smartphone market that he believes presents limited future growth potential for Apple's iPhone. And without a new "revolutionary" product, he doesn't believe shares of Apple will see a boost anytime soon.

He doesn't see Apple introducing anything as groundbreaking from a financial perspective as the iPhone or iPad.

"We believe Apple's story is all about iPhones and 'new categories' seem to be designed to make the iPhone more useful — but don't necessarily reaccelerate growth in the iPhone category to sustainable double-digit levels," he wrote. "If we were to see evidence that payments and/or new content deals enhance the Web services aspect of Apple vs. Google and others long-term, we may need to reassess this opinion."

Reitzes then went on to cite the valuation of Apple's rival Microsoft from 2000 to 2010, and suggested that Apple might see a similar pattern. The analyst said that he sees "no precedent" that large tech companies can broadly outperform once again after "a tough year or two."


February 25, 2014, 12:20 am

I was disappointed by the S5 design because it looks more or less the same as previous models... but Samsung definitely made so strong improvements.

Water-resistant, 20% battery improvement, black and white mode to save battery-life, as well as the best display resolution, processor, RAM and camera make the Galaxy S5 a lot better than the iPhone 5S.

If I were eligible for an upgrade between now and September, I would probably get the Galaxy S5. When the iPhone 6 comes out in September, it will probably reclaim the title of best phone on the market from the S5, Xperia Z2 or HTC One 2.

Gary Doan

February 25, 2014, 4:59 am

Lucas -- Analysts put too much value on market share. The Apple iPhone market is maturing, but it is also growing. iOS and Android are different markets. I only buy a new phone every two years and sell my old one on Craigslist. I have had an iPhone since the first iPhone, but have never owned an "S" model and plan on buying an iPhone 6.

Apple has been buying or patenting some interesting technologies, that could be used in multiple products, some of which could be very unique.

Apple is unique itself, as is the loyalty of their customer base and their eco-system. Apple isn't trying to take business away from Android, but does capture more Android users, than Android picks up iOS users.

The tablet market is not mature yet and Apple is the standard for K-12 educational publishers and business apps. They have the same lock as Microsoft attained a few years into the growing PC market had in business. Microsoft still has that advantage decades later.

If and when Apple wants to go after the low end, they can buy companies like Xiaomi, the leading smartphone vendor in China, with out denting their cash badly, give them something like iOS lite and blow Samsung and the other Android vendors away on price alone.

Apple is holding all the cards and the Android players are sitting on the edge of their chairs, waiting for Apple's cards to be played.


February 25, 2014, 6:43 am

"the big question is whether you want a phone that’s easy to use in one hand, or value having a big, bold display to watch films and play games on."

On read/reply to your emails, surf the web, read magazines (e.g. Zinio), ...

You can be 100% sure that the iPhone 6 will have a 5" or better screen, and that it will be hailed as the 2nd coming by every single user who ever proclaimed that 5" phones were OK to watch films and play games.


February 25, 2014, 7:56 am

You certainly know a lot about the industry. But I wouldn't be so quick to count Samsung out. This is a company that, over the last 10 years, defeated Sony in televisions, and with Apple's help in the U.S., bested Nokia (the world's largest mobile company for many years), Blackberry (arguably with Palm, the first smartphone) and Motorola (the company that created the cellphone and did much of the industry's R&D).

Samsung has probably the world's best manufacturing capabilities. Its vertical integration is a huge competitive advantage over Apple which doesn't do its own manufacturing (as I'm sure you know) and relies on suppliers to actually design and build screens, memory, processors, etc. Remember, it was a partnership with Samsung that allowed Apple to create the iPod, iPhone and iPad in the first place.

Samsung Group does everything from memory chips to kitchen appliances to skyscrapers, ships and oil rigs. They will figure out what next to do as the market for smartphones begins its eventual decline in profitability.


February 25, 2014, 8:02 am

Apple has a great brand; it is above-all-else a sales and marketing company at its core. Steve Jobs, while not a technical genius (see Woz), was definitely a marketing genius. It doesn't hurt that Johny Ive leads the best design team in the industry as well.

I know women have a particular affinity for Apple laptops and phones. My question is, will the strong appeal of the brand as a fashion label be able to sustain premium pricing for less-than-premium specs and performance? Bill of goods on the iPhone 5S are around $200 and it costs $10 to make the phone in China (using contract workers who earn about $1.25/hr). Yet, people in the U.S. line up to buy it at $700. Is this $500 per unit gross profit margin sustainable?

Prem Desai

February 25, 2014, 10:04 am

The design of phones is not so important as they all need cases and protectors.

If they made a phone that had a durable case, then the design becomes an issue.

Neither the S5 nor the 5S do it for me - they both cost silly money.

I'm sticking with my Moto G which does everything I want, runs every app I want and still have a healthy bank balance. The icing on the cake is if my kids or dog want to play with it, my heart won't skip a beat worried about the cost of replacing it.


February 26, 2014, 3:15 am

Moto G user here as well. I personally think no other phone on the market beats the moto g. For 150-200 dollars your getting a phone that has a great screen, amazing battery life, runs smoothly, and is already updated to kit kat. I would suggest it to anyone who wants value over specs.


March 2, 2014, 7:40 am

its funny how you say that because if you actually do the research you would realize that Samsung makes the iPhone chips for the CPU, so with apples on market you think that Samsung with ever make anything for iPhone that is better than its own. the built-in computer the camera the RAMthe graphics, everything about a galaxy phone since the s4 has been better than the iPhone 5. the only people who like the limited IOS Apple iPhones, are ones we have never owned an Android or Samsung device in their life


March 8, 2014, 3:16 pm

£550 on phone with a cheap and nasty a plastic back, brilliant. It may be tough but it's not premium enough for me and where do they dream up these price tags anyway... I can buy a REAL computer for that much money. I left the S4 for an Xperia Z over build quality, the Z kicks its ass but £500 odd notes and it honestly is the most useless smartphone ever... what the hell is the point in a smartphone that lasts half a day when you attempt to use it. Rubbish, it's all overpriced, beta stage rubbish.


March 10, 2014, 2:51 pm

I have an original iPad and an S2. Personally, I use the iPad for everything but phoning and checking occasional addresses when I am out. I find most of the screens unusable and much prefer the Apple approach.

It can be an absolutely terrible telephone experience; but it is paid for.

So you see, everyone is not like you.


March 10, 2014, 2:53 pm

They will figure out what to copy next...


March 13, 2014, 7:20 pm

That's the problem. You always know that there's another smartphone better than your's in 6 months. This does depend on whether you like Apple, LG, Samsung or whatever. I personally think the design of the Galaxy S5 has improved a lot compared to the previous. Now you can probably hear i'm a bit biased on Samsung because of more value, and i have generally had luck with their products. If a good competitor, that had more value for the money, good power and such, i would throw my money at that one. And the design actually doesn't matter that much for anyone really, you're going to cover it in protecting plastics when you buy it. Also depends on what you need. I really don't need all that power and features, but i still want the phone. Maybe because i have a Nokia. Anyways, I don't need a Lamborghini when i'm driving on gravel roads.


March 28, 2014, 2:56 am

Yes the android market is a different animal. And the only animal i would have. Ok lets say you just did a few hours of home videos, Nans birthday party little jimmys first day at school Etc Etc and you also took a few hundred photos. With Android all i have to do is pop in a $3 mini usb otg cable to transfer or copy all those files in a matter of seconds,Even music if i wanted to straight to a usb flash drive and watch it uninterupted from the usb inlet on my 50inch tv . You can not do this on an iphone out of the box, I luv my Android Beast!!!!


April 14, 2014, 1:26 pm

Iphone6 is rumored to have a 5.5" screen


April 14, 2014, 1:37 pm

I had a Galaxy S2 and I upgraded to a S5. Big step in both size and performance. The size took me about a day to get used to... The (removable) backcover, while its not glass / aluminium, doesnt feel cheap at all... If you tap it (why would you?) you hear its plastic but it feels leathery. iPhone feels more solid? Yeah thats because it is... IF you remove the casing from the iphone you void your warranty...

Edwin Tshabalala

April 22, 2014, 1:50 pm

This is the best review I have come accross... Very helpful, pricise & strait to the point. Thanx guys & well done...


April 24, 2014, 8:30 am

Apples whole existence was base on copying....See Xerox story where the two Steve's, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak decided to copy Xerox's idea when given a tour by Jobs buddy a Xerox employee. The thief is dead now, oh well...


April 24, 2014, 10:59 pm

And what happened to that Xerox GUI? Oh yeah, it showed up on the Mac and later reworked by Microsoft. The PARC machine? Nowhere to be found. And I understand that Xerox was paid in Mac shares. (Too bad they likely sold them what with the later valuations and now a 7:1 split.). I've never heard of any payment by MS to Xerox...


April 24, 2014, 11:00 pm

Did you see the earnings report, yesterday? I think this party is going to go on for a while yet.

Anthony B

April 25, 2014, 1:51 am

There was a lot of opinion thrown around in this article. It's very obvious which side of the fence this writer is on. How's that iPhone treating you Andrew?

Jeff Trigger

April 25, 2014, 7:00 pm

If you have a Mac, you don't have to do that with an iPhone. It will be on your computer without doing anything. Just a reminder to know your facts. That being said, I went with an S5 because at the moment it can do more stuff.


April 26, 2014, 12:38 am

Its been 4 years since 5" screens took over..and this kinda writing is so pathetic. .seems like these writer's think their going to change ppls opinions but...nope...everybody wants a big screen...I cant imagine holding a little iphone in my hand. .watching that little screenn ...lol...feel sry for the ppl that are brainwashed. ..im watching netflix on my note 3....nuff said

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